Video by Kenny S

The Dying Gaul

One of the most famous sculptures from the classical period is “The Dying Gaul,” done in the early third century. Someday we may get “The Dying Computer.” Till then …

What is to be done?  If your computer dies and you get a new one, what about all those programs that were on the old machine? Are they dead too? Not if you have some good tools.

First you need what’s called a “bootable disk:” If your computer won’t start in the normal fashion, insert the bootable disk into the DVD drive and flip the switch; the operating system will find it and start up.  Joy keeps a bootable disk in her buggiest computer. It used to start up okay around half the time. Now it always starts up. If you don’t have a bootable disk, you can use your computer to make one, and of course you have to do this before the big trouble starts. If you messed up and didn’t do that, you can use a disk containing one of the Linux operating systems, like Ubuntu. These are free and often included in the back of books on the subject.

The second thing you need is the backup you made before the computer died.  With any luck, you stored that on an external disk drive, on a DVD or at an online backup service.

Finally, you need a program that lets you put your whole system back on the old or a new computer. We know of only one program that does this for a new computer. It’s the $30 “Plus Pack” that’s an add-on to the new $50 “Acronis True Image Home 2011” or the older 2010 version. You see, normally you can’t put Windows and all your programs, files and settings, onto a different computer because of hardware conflicts.  With Plus Pack, you can; except in rare instances, it makes the necessary adjustments.

For those who can’t imagine ever needing to restore a dead computer’s files and programs onto different hardware, Acronis True Image Home 2011 without the Plus Pack add-on has another very useful feature; it’s called “nonstop backup.” Nonstop backup saves your whole system every five minutes, so you can then go back and restore everything.

Video by Kenny S

True Image comes with a “Try & Decide” mode. If you activate this mode, you can then click on any web link, open any attachment, or try any program, and it will not make changes to your computer. If you decide you like what you see, you can keep it. Otherwise, use the “undo” button in the program to throw out the new information.

There are several backup and restore programs. But what we liked about Acronis was its ease of use.  Put a bootable disk in the drive, restart the machine, and click the “Acronis” logo. Then click “restore.” That’s it: the whole shebang and the widget in the works that makes the wheels go round.  Acronis True Image Home also comes with online backup, which is free for the first two gigabytes.  And it makes a bootable disk for you. “True Image Home 2011” is $50. The Plus Pack add-on is $30. You can read about both at

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